I Am Legend Review
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In 2009, a groundbreaking scientific discovery has cataclysmic results, and a possible cure for cancer turns into a deadly virus that travels through the air, creating worldwide disaster.

Three years later, Robert Neville (Will Smith) finds himself alone in New York City, wandering the streets with his dog, Sam, and searching for other survivors. A brilliant scientist, Neville was the one who first discovered the virus’s dangers, and he’s still convinced that he can find the cure—one that will drive away the horrors that lurk in the shadows.

I Am Legend tells a simple story that’s played out, for the most part, by just one mesmerizing actor. Though there’s very little dialogue, Smith has no problem captivating his audience. He plays a character who’s strong and determined, even though he’s coming the slightest bit unglued. But who wouldn’t? Through Smith’s performance—and through the haunting images of a deserted New York City—you can feel the solitude and the desperation. It’s all pretty grim, and it feels almost unbearably heavy. In the hands of a different actor, it could have been painfully dull. But Smith has the charisma (as well as the talent) to pull it off. And, as a result, while I Am Legend seems somewhat drawn out—and it feels much longer than its 100 minutes—it’s anything but boring.

Throughout the film, just under the surface, there’s a constant, eerie tension. As Neville wanders the streets, there’s an underlying sense of dread. It’s that edge-of-your-seat, waiting-for-everything-to-fall-apart kind of dread. And even when Neville’s hanging out at home, singing along with his iPod, or visiting the video store down the street, it’s always there, in the background. You know that something’s going to happen—but you don’t know what…or when. It’s like that moment in your favorite horror movie when everything is quiet, when you brace yourself for what you know is coming—but I Am Legend is nearly a full hour and a half of that silent, building horror. Sure, there are a few cheap scares along the way to make you jump out of your seat—but, really, it’s all just a part of the game.

At the same time, though, there are a few things that you’ll need to overlook in order to enjoy I Am Legend. There are a few little details that don’t really make sense, and the effects aren’t always the most believable. But, in the end, most of that just adds to the film’s mood—to the tension and the feeling of isolation.

Of course, if you’re expecting the typical Will Smith action movie—with non-stop action, culminating in one spectacularly triumphant scene—this isn’t it. It definitely has its share of intense action, but it’s slow and even agonizingly suspenseful at times—and it’s often exhaustingly bleak. But while it may not always be a fun movie to watch, it’s quite well done—and it’s definitely one that you won’t soon forget.

DVD Review:
If you put the I Am Legend DVD in your DVD player, you won’t find a lot of extras—just four animated comics that tell more about the virus’s impact throughout the world. They’re simple yet intense and haunting—but that’s as far as the DVD features go.

If you pop the disc into your computer, though, you’ll find so much more. It’s a bit of a hassle to get to the DVD-ROM features (especially if, like me, you happen to be running the ever-irksome Windows Vista), but it’s worth the effort. Along with a scientific and rather gruesome feature about the reality of viruses and pandemics, there are all kinds of making-of featurettes. Twenty-one of them, to be exact—covering everything from the story to the stunts to the psychology of it all. The featurettes are just a few minutes each, but they’ll give you a great look at all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Though the featurettes are definitely worth checking out, I can’t help but wonder why someone decided to make them DVD-ROM-only. I have a feeling that a lot of people will end up missing out—just because they figure it’s not worth the hassle.

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